Title VII “Quid Pro Quo” Sexual Harassment Claim, With Amendment, Plausibly Alleged

In Harvison v. G.A. West & Co., Inc., 2023 WL 2998482, at *5 (S.D.Miss. April 18, 2023), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, inter alia, granted one plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint to assert a “quid pro quo” sexual harassment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, finding that the proposed amendment was not “futile.”

From the decision:

As to Harvison, however, Defendant misreads Plaintiffs’ proposed amendment. With this new allegation, Harvison claims that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor in the form of text messages which proposed raises and promotions in exchange for sexual favors, see Ex. [6-1] at 1-2 (supervisor stating that a better position on the job “comes with a price” and indicating that with a change in her role on the job, Harvison was expected to perform sex acts), and that after she refused these advances, she did not receive a promotion or raise, and instead lost hours and benefits, see Compl. [1-1] at 4-5; Resp. [6] at 3; Ex. [6-1] at 1-3; see also Ex. [1-1] at 8. Taking these allegations as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, as the Court must for a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Harvison could plausibly assert that she suffered a tangible employment action, in the form of a denied promotion or lost benefits and raises, and that this action occurred due to her rejection of her supervisor’s sexual advances. See Ellerth, 524 U.S. at 761-62 (noting that direct economic harm, such as a denial of a raise or a promotion, is a tangible employment action).

Base don this, the court concluded that “Harvison’s amendment, if allowed, could therefore plausibly state a claim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and as such it would not be futile.”

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